When it comes to choosing the Best Online Travel Marketplaces to promote your Tours on, there are a few key features to consider that will optimize your marketing success.
As a tour operator, the benefits of promoting your product on an Online Travel Marketplace are immense. Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) harness the power of the internet to create a global platform that brings together an audience far larger than what any other marketing channel can attain.
As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Instead in the same way that you would use multiple travel distribution channels as part of your marketing plan to promote your tours, use as many Online Travel Marketplaces or Online Travel Agencies that fit your product as possible.
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The good news is the bulk of Online Travel Marketplaces are free to list upon and only take a commission once a successful booking is made. Overall though, what you save on marketing fees you will probably spend on paying booking commissions.
An Overview Of Some Of The Best Online Travel Marketplaces
Those That Reach A Major Global Audience
The giants of the industry such as Expedia, TripAdvisor Experiences (who bought out Viator) and Orbitz (which belongs to Expedia), have an enormous global reach with millions of committed, ready-to-purchase visitors on their sites on a daily basis. They have, after all, had years to build up an extensive network of trusted brands, partners, and affiliates.
Promoting your product on Online Travel Marketplaces such as these, who translate your content into numerous languages across their sites, ultimately makes your product accessible to a global audience.
Although the marketplace is not very niche with these particular Online Travel Agencies, travelers who are on the sites are actively immersed in the travel-cycle and committed to buying. Generally speaking, they have already purchased either a flight, accommodation, or car rental, and this means that when they hit the Things To Do tab, it is often with the intent of making a purchase.
Consumers who visit these sites trust them and trust that the product they intend to purchase is exactly what is advertised. Take TripAdvisor Experiences (Viator) for example – their affiliation to TripAdvisor, which is known as the ultimate trusted peer travel review site, has seen them mark their spot among the giants of the Online Travel Marketplaces. People use this Travel Marketplace because they are able to share information about their experiences and review the products on offer.
Adding to the concept of trust, Viator is also one of three tour operators that the traveler's ultimate go-to for travel guides company, Lonely Planet, uses for its online bookable tours.
Online Travel Marketplaces such as iWTX, are online trading platforms accessible by membership only. Only once have you have signed up do you get access to other participants on the site, and products are not directly accessible to consumers without a membership.
An annual subscription and processing fee per person per element booked will give you access to a large database of buyers who are committed to making a purchase, as well as to sellers who have developed a highly marketable travel product.
Benefits Of Reward Programs
Everyone likes to be rewarded for purchasing and it is no different for travelers buying travel products. Rewards Programs use discounts or points accrual methods among others to incentivize a customer to return for their next purchase. Online Travel Agencies realize the value of this invaluable income generating tool and subsequently make use of them.
Orbitz which is owned by Expedia has a rewards program where consumers can earn Orbucks and use them to pay for any other products booked on their site. This ultimately translates to the consumer displaying loyalty to Orbitz and returning to purchase their products.
Another Online Travel Agency with a popular rewards program is TourRadar. Their reward program is for the tour supplier and aims to raise the status of the tour offered on the online travel marketplace. The traveler sees the reward as an indicator of the quality of the tour and by booking and subsequently reviewing it, cements its status.
Online Marketplaces With A More Focused Offering
Some Online Travel Agencies offer a more focused marketplace than others. Agencies like TourRadar and StrideTravel restrict their offering to multi-day tours, making their product more niche than what Expedia or Viator has to offer for example. Consumers who book on these sites are typically searching for ready to book, multi-day group itineraries in a particular destination.
From a reporting and feedback perspective, as you scale down in size from the giants to these up and coming Online Travel Agencies, the supplier tends to receive more focused and analytical feedback regarding the performance of their tours on the marketplace, as well as receive more information on how to optimize and improve their content.
Begin by defining your tours’ potential audience, decide how involved you want to be in the marketing process and from there decide which are the Best Online Travel Marketplaces to sign up with from there.
Our comparison table below gives an overview of the traffic each site sees, its accessibility to the supplier, and relative ease of use.
It’s In The Delivery
This breed of Online Travel Agency understands how important user experience is when utilizing the internet and is taking how you interact with their marketplaces up a step.
As more and more people access the internet via mobile, it has become increasingly important to have a good mobile site and even a mobile app. As well as a booking app, Thrillophilia also has a supplier app where you can manage your product and optimize your content based on the insight to the market that they provide you with.
GetYourGuide also has a booking app that is optimized for people searching for and booking tours whilst on the go. Their website is also very user-friendly and sees high traffic volumes. Musement is not quite as big as the other two mentioned as it only opened its doors in 2014, but it has already acquired a global following, probably because of their unique offering of activities and user-friendly market platform.
All of these Online Travel Marketplaces focus on user experience and have a dedicated support team on offer to both the consumer and the supplier to promote a great online marketplace experience.
Niche product marketplace
In 2016 Veltra acquired City Discovery and became VeltraCityDiscovery. Like the giants, they have a large global audience and an online travel marketplace available in different languages. Their selling point, however, is that they offer more unique tours and experiences on their marketplace.
Another one to pay attention to, even though it is still in its' early days, is AirbnbExperiences. What started out as a website that offers home-style accommodation has now evolved to include experiences too.
The requirements to gain access to the platform are quite stringent though. In order to get listed a supplier has to be a knowledgeable expert and personally offer the unique experience or tour to guests. A co-host can assist but the tours are required to be specialized and a unique experience, as well as immersive and hands-on for the guest.
You do not have to be a House Host to be an Experience Host but any experiences advertised on AirbnbExperiences marketplace can only be undertaken by Airbnb guests. External bookings cannot be added to the group.
A Worthy Mention
Google with all of its features, is the most powerful tool on the internet and if your business is not listed with GoogleMyBusiness, it should be. It is a free and invaluable tool that will literally put you on the map and provide your business with the legitimacy of being visible to the millions of people who use it.
As you can see from the information above, there is no single best online travel marketplace to promote your tour on, there are actually a few. They each have their own points of value and provide a great platform on which to market your tour.
Remember that the best way to promote your tours is to use various key distribution channels and not rely solely on a single one. If you are looking for tips on how to successfully market your travel and tour business check out our free resources for more information.
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